Industrial societies face an increasingly dire demographic challenge as their populations age. These challenges pose many demands on the educational system. A report from the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) forecasts trends in high school graduate rates in the U.S. It finds that the number of white high school graduates has peaked and that any growth will come from student with Hispanic and Asian-American/Pacific Islander backgrounds.
Growth rates for individual states fluctuate wildly, there is declining enrolment in the north east sector of the country and growing enrolment in the south west. The report does not predict a drop off in students seeking a higher education as states increase their efforts to enrol more students in colleges and universities. Also this is the only way that students can be assured of a comfortable future life.
In an article by Greg Melleuish in The Australian he argues that one of the most significant development of the last ten years is that students are staying in school longer. He wonders how Australia will be able to support an aging population along with a larger population of “emerging adults” who are attending school.
In his view “Policy should focus on skills attainment, not the acquisition of a piece of paper by a certain proportion of the population.” He feels that universities are better at training bureaucrats than entrepreneurs.
Both articles describe a rapidly changing world in which adult educators will have an increasingly important role.